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Author Topic: You can go but you better not!  (Read 7136 times)
Guts42
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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2021, 06:57:08 PM »

Yes.  Actually their therapist and I should be talking either Monday or Tuesday.  I wanted to ask about how to prepare them for me being gone for a few days.

She (their therapist) has no idea about the potential BPD.  I'm wondering if I should express my suspicions?  I've been wanting to bring it up with her, especially after some of her screaming episodes that involved the kids.

On that note, I wonder if I should mention anything about her potential BPD to our couple's therapist on my intake form?

Oh and get this... There's now an official demand for my transgressions about the trip.  She's demanding that I schedule a bounce house for the kids and arrange a tattoo session for her if I decide to go.  Actually- it just evolved into "I want these things even if you go."
"If you're going to go it's going to cost you.  It's not about you going it's about what an a$$hole you've been.  If you're worried about broken bones or some stranger setting up a bounce house in our backyard while you're gone... Then you know what to do... But seriously it's not about you going."
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« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2021, 06:11:00 AM »

My post above discusses a possible explanation for how the "reason" or the consequences can change and why it is likely to escalate as her anxiety gets higher as you get closer to the trip. It's gone from "the kids will be sad" to more of a threat. " you need to buy me/us this".

This also has elements of the extinction burst when you stick to your boundaries. If one method to get you to change your mind doesn't work, then escalate until it does.

There's a book called "Understanding the Borderline Mother" which is sort of a characterization of the different personas a person with BPD might take on. It may not be widely read on the relationship board, but it may make some sense to the ways a pwBPD might escalate. My mother tends to stay in Queen mode, expecting people to accommodate her wishes. If that doesn't work, she can change to Witch mode- threatening. If that doesn't work then she goes to Waif. Waif is the hardest for me, as it's hard to see her feel so hurt, and be accused of causing her suffering. I don't think anyone would choose to hurt someone so it's very hard to see this.

When it comes to relationship tools, people use what works for them. Is this conscious manipulation or what they have learned works for them to manage their own feelings? It's hard to tell. But it may help to be prepared for these things, as if something has worked for someone, they tend to continue doing it.
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Guts42
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« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2021, 11:09:42 AM »

Thank you for the book recommendation!
I've been reading a lot lately.  I've got a book I've been meaning to read just for fun but all these great books keep popping up.
So far I've read "Stop Walking on Eggshells," "Hold Me Tight," and wrapping up "Braving the Wilderness."  There's a good chance your recommendation might bump my fun book (especially since my Dad recently confirmed that my mom was uBPD)!

I agree- I think at some points she's so confused because she really doesn't understand how irrational her behavior is.  It's hard to digest that though because she's intelligent and quick.  I think there are some elements of denial and unawareness here.  I keep that in mind as much as I can but at what point do I just walk away?  There's no having a rational discussion with her.  So I just give up and try to end the conversation as quickly as possible... not healthy but I'm at a loss now that I've realized I can't "win."

I'm coming to the heart breaking realization that I regret marrying her.  There were so many warning signs that I just ignored and thought were "normal" behaviors for someone with anxiety.
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« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2021, 11:51:29 AM »

If you are seriously considering ending the relationship, I highly recommend you read the book "Splitting".  I believe one of the authors was also one of the "Eggshells" authors.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand the material in this book when dealing with a possible D with a high conflict spouse.

You appear to be very early in your learning about dealing with a BPDw.  I wish I'd known five years ago what I've learned in the past few months...  I do believe there is hope for your marriage if you decide to continue but understanding her by educating yourself will take some time.  Just remember that intelligence and rational thought are two very different brain functions.  You need to come to terms with your wife having the emotional regulation of a toddler and a complete inability to think rationally when she has high emotions (which is apparently very often).  Understanding those two concepts should help you avoid JADEing and not take the tantrums personally.  When my two year old son starts screaming and hitting me, I don't assume I'm a bad person who needs to change... I try to calm him down and assume he is just going through the terrible two's.  When my wife did the same she ended up getting arrested, but that's a long story for another time.  While I was trying validation techniques then, I also did some JADE that escalated things.  Wish I could have that moment back.
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Guts42
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« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2021, 07:11:41 PM »

I'll check that one out too!

It's hard, as I'm sure everyone here knows to hold onto the "something isn't right here" feeling.  Today everything was almost perfect.  A trip to the mall and presents for everyone!  There was a subtle undertone that this was penance for me being an "a$$hole about the trip" but she seemed almost high... But I'll take that over the way things have been lately.

I also just learned that she's have a full psych eval in September.  She thinks she has ADHD and/or OCD and wants the official diagnosis.  What are the odds BPD could be diagnosed?
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« Reply #35 on: June 06, 2021, 08:52:22 PM »

Excerpt
It's hard, as I'm sure everyone here knows to hold onto the "something isn't right here" feeling.  Today everything was almost perfect.

Knowing to hold onto it, and doing it are not the same thing... and I have a history of failing miserably.  We went through months of hell (August-Jan) where I lost 35 pounds from depression/stress of dealing with her anger.  Then we had 3 perfect weeks, made me remember all the good... until she assaulted me and our 2.5 year old twins...  Even then I let her back into my heart... three weeks later she was arrested after a 20 minute rage that broke my toe and she did $5k of damage to our property.  I fight the urge to reach out to her every day...

My pwBPDw was assessed this past Tuesday, because her first assessment 7 years ago didn't say BPD.  It said comorbid BPD and ASPD which is much worse, but whatever.  She convinced herself that she is autistic and doesn't have BPD, after reading that women with autism are often misdiagnosed with BPD.  I personally have complete confidence that she will come back from this assessment with BPD.

If your wife has BPD and the psychiatrist is good, she will get a BPD diagnosis.  Does she admit to many of the symptoms, or does she deny even the symptoms?  Oddly, my W will admit to every symptom in DSM 4/5 but will deny it applies to any actual incidence of behavior.
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2021, 06:01:52 AM »

Guts, don't be disappointed if the eval does not come up with a BPD diagnosis. A goal of therapy is to help the person improve and gain some insights to their behavior, which is extremely difficult with people who have difficulty managing uncomfortable emotions and tend to project/deny as a protective mechanism.

To help someone, you can't have them get so upset they run out of the room and don't come back. While BPD might account for the behaviors, there are other conditions that go along with that, depression, anxiety- and it's possible the person doing the evaluation might start with that.

It's also possible they can't see the BPD. A person with BPD has a different public persona and this is all they may show at the evaluation. Most people outside our immediate family would have no clue about my mother, she presents herself quite differently in public. She is also not honest with others and that includes therapists. Because of this, therapy has not been effective with her as therapists can't get a good picture of what is really going on.

My mother is now elderly, and has assistance at home. She's been quite impaired with BPD and has always needed a lot of support at home and this was provided by my father when he was alive, but she can not be left on her own. Ironically, she's "aged into" it being normal to have assistance with daily tasks. A therapy session lasts about an hour, but the home health workers are there with her a longer time. BPD is most apparent to the closest relationships and is now evident to them.

This is not to discourage you from trying. Therapy has helped pwBPD but the person also has to be willing to receive the help. It may take the therapist several sessions to form the kind of relationship needed to work with a pwBPD. I would say, have hope, but don't be surprised if they don't say it's BPD at first. BPD is on a spectrum so you just may not know how your wife responds.
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« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2021, 07:59:26 AM »

Thanks NotWendy- I have a feeling her eval will comeback with exactly what she wants it to: ADHD and maybe OCD.  She's a master researcher and since reading up on traits of both conditions they've been "presenting" more.  The especially difficult one is this "executive dysfunction."
I don't invalidate I just say "that sounds awful" and leave it at that.

I'm hoping to talk to the kids' therapist today.  should I bring up my BPD suspicions about my wife?. I am deeply concerned my wife is projecting her fears onto the kids.

Also, I had a moment of clarity yesterday.
We were at a mall for the first time in a little over a year.  While the purchases were happening she was in a great mood!  Once they stopped and she recognized how crowded it was she shutdown.  I could see the panic.

Suddenly it hit me.  She has the emotional maturity of a 12 year old fighting with the hormones and responsibilities of a woman in her 30s with children under the age of 10.
And this person, this superhero who never really gets sick, shrugs of every injury, works two jobs, needs very little sleep, does most of the house work, and tends to your every whim without question wants to leave you alone for a few days for fun away from you.  To a 12 year old emotional brain that must be absolutely terrifying.  It's not the duration or a question of whether or not I'll come back- it's that I'll be gone AT ALL.  I couldn't imagine leaving my 8 year old alone for a quick grocery run... I can only imagine how my wife must feel about me, her personal superhero and servant, being gone for 4 days- the person who's made it okay to be "herself."  That's why offers from other people to help out or being around or check in don't matter.  If she falls apart- they won't understand and (in her mind) they certainly won't tolerate it.  Again, in her mind, they'll judge her, think she isn't fit to be a mother, maybe even call the police to take the kids away!  And none of it would have happened if I hadn't left... it's not reasonable to expect her to function without me!  I've made her dependent (she's said this multiple times) and now she has all these conditions (OCD/ADHD/etc) so it really really isn't fair!!

It all makes sense- well mostly.  In her mind anything that isn't fair for a spoiled 12 year old isn't fair for her.  Motherhood, laundry, homeschool... deciding what she wants to do with her life... That's too much for someone's whose emotions never left junior high.
I feel sick.  I feel like an 'a$$hole' for not seeing it sooner.

So what do I do with that?  How do I cope with someone who has the emotional maturity of a pre-teen?  
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 08:13:32 AM by Guts42 » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2021, 08:14:13 AM »

sorry.. duplicate post!
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« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2021, 09:00:24 AM »


Bringing up stuff to therapists.

Bring up what you observe and stay curious.  Refrain from diagnosis or very specific stuff.

Maybe if you get in a discussion say something like "Hey..a buddy of mine suggested I read this book..I was shocked others had relationships just like mine.  Are there other explanations for this type of thing?"

Rather than..I read this..I know my partner is BPD...so you should (blank).

Best,

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« Reply #40 on: June 07, 2021, 09:50:46 AM »

Let's put it this way...  Do you expect a therapist to know what the family dynamic is and be able to counsel the children well if no one tells what's happening day to day?  Maybe the kids are revealing things, but then again maybe not, not a complete picture.

As FF noted, it's probably not a good idea to throw out your conclusions of a diagnosis.  At first that may not make sense, after all, wouldn't they appreciate the input?  It might seem strange to us but many professionals don't like us to "play doctor".  But if you don't relate, to some extent, what's happening in the home environment how can the therapist help the children?

There are roundabout ways to clue in a good counselor, giving the facts and background.  "I was reading this book by Randi Kreger "Stop Walking On eggshells" and it really describes what's happening in our family, the chaos, the dysfunction, etc."

The message right now should be focused on describing the stresses to the kids, that they're facing a scenario where dad will be away for a few days and mom is making it like threatening the end of the world, her world.
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« Reply #41 on: June 07, 2021, 10:23:19 AM »

Suddenly it hit me.  She has the emotional maturity of a 12 year old fighting with the hormones and responsibilities of a woman in her 30s with children under the age of 10.


Guts, I think you are on the right track. You are not a jerk for not recognizing this. Most people won't- because some of her other attributes are not age 12, and personally, I think pwBPD can hide this well.

This realization for me was huge. For one, BPD was not known well when I was a kid ( I am middle age now) and so not known to my parents either, but my mother was receiving psychiatric help for something ( whatever they called it) off and on.

One issue growing up was resentment. Why wasn't my mother doing what other mothers do. It was natural to want a mom who acted like a mom- who wouldn't? And sadly, my mother was the recipient of that, especially in my teens.

One distinct memory was when I was discussing something I learned in school at the dinner table with my Dad. I was 12. He was very interested in what I was talking about, asking questions and it was a conversation between us. BPD mom began acting up, like a jealous younger sibling, interrupting, bringing the focus on to her. I had this odd realization that she was acting younger than I was but I didn't understand why. Like you, feeling resentful for what you do, I felt resentful for being disciplined in an age appropriate manner, yet she seemed to have no consequences for her acting out. We had rules for how to behave in my home, thankfully, but they didn't seem to apply to her.

I understood this better once I learned about BPD, and this has made all the difference in our relationship. I don't live with her though and that is a difference from being married.

Some symptoms of different disorders are similar. My mother's executive function is very impaired. She doesn't have ADD though. The cause seems to be anxiety. She gets extremely anxious when asked to do a task and this interferes with her following through. Rather than admit to this, she may refuse, act out, or enlist ( coerce ) someone to do it for her. This is something that can cause shame and low self esteem. She has volunteered to do things like bake cookies for a school function, bring something to a pot luck, make invitations to an event- and she enlists her kids to do these and then shows up with them saying she did them.

So back to your trip, and not to undo your plans but maybe consider how you might get some assistance for her in a non demeaning way. My mother wants to be seen as a competent grandmother. She did spend time with my kids when they were small, and there is no way I would ever leave her unsupervised with them. I don't think she'd deliberately harm them, but neither would I leave a person  with her emotional age (somewhere less than 12) alone with my kids.  She does not have the emotional capacity to manage children's antics.

And back to your wife's "reason". She's not likely to admit that she's scared spitless about being left alone with the kids- so she will come up with other reasons to avoid shame. Imagine if you asked the neighborhood 12 year old to be alone with them for several days. They would freak out. But you could ask a mature 12 year old to watch them for a short bit while you run to the store. If the kids are in school/day care for most of the time while you are out, or if you are home most of the time, then your wife may appear to be managing better.

And about your resentment. Yes, it makes sense to expect another adult to take on some responsibilities in the home, allow you to take the break you wish for. However, with BPD it might not be that kind of balance. Still, doing everything for them isn't good either. 12 year olds can do a lot, and she needs to take on some tasks or she won't gain competence. I know my father wanted to take the stress of my mother and so we did most tasks for her. But the consequences is that she doesn't know how to do some tasks and this exacerbates her BPD behavior as it impacts her self esteem.
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kells76
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« Reply #42 on: June 07, 2021, 10:36:24 AM »

Hey Guts42...

In terms of bringing up your BPD suspicions to a professional...

Like FF suggested, there are "ways" of doing that without saying that. When we focus on labels, or diagnoses, or what the other parent is doing, no matter how bad... it creates a dysfunctional structure that can actually impede the professional from helping the family. It puts us into a drama triangle, where we are the persecutor/victim mashup role (because we're right, and we're just being honest and pointing out reality, and we're helpless to change things on our own), and we enlist the professional as a persecutor/rescuer mashup (can't you see how wrong she's being, please help save my family from her, you have the expert right information). Professionals aren't interested in playing roles in drama triangles, and if we choose to approach our real and valid concerns that way, we risk being seen as the problem.

So, how do we not shoot ourselves in the foot?

Excerpt
Bring up what you observe and stay curious.  Refrain from diagnosis or very specific stuff.

"I've noticed my kids crying and exhibiting anxiety when I go on a trip and leave them with their mom... it seemed to come and go... when I would talk to them, they seemed OK... what can I do better or differently?"

(notice what I did there?)

"I've noticed my kids seem to respond to my trip differently whether they're with me or Mom... is that normal? What can I do to help them?"

"My kids get stressed when they hear yelling or arguments... how can I work on creating a calmer house for them on my end?"

All of these statements: (1) raise awareness that there is a problem for the kids, (2) frame it as you taking responsibility for your part, and (3) includes the fact that Mom is a player in this (but lets the professional "connect the dots" on hmmm, how is Mom involved)

And as FD suggested...

Excerpt
There are roundabout ways to clue in a good counselor, giving the facts and background.  "I was reading this book by Randi Kreger "Stop Walking On eggshells" and it really describes what's happening in our family, the chaos, the dysfunction, etc."

The message right now should be focused on describing the stresses to the kids, that they're facing a scenario where dad will be away for a few days and mom is making it like threatening the end of the world, her world.

I 110% recommend that you read this article (linked at the end) by Dr. Craig Childress, addressing your very concern. He has GREAT specific ideas for communicating your concerns to practitioners, without painting yourself into a corner as the "blaming, accusing, fingerpointing, problem parent".

Because that's the double bind that pwPD's put us in -- if you don't say anything, their coercive control continues, but if you do say something, the suddenly you're the issue, you're the problem, you're blaming, you're rocking the boat.

Childress has incredible suggestions on how to "not play that game" while still "roundabout" sharing with professionals that there are serious problems in the family.

https://drcachildress.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Ju-jitsu-Parenting-Fighting-Back-from-the-Down-Position-Childress-2013.pdf

Let us know your thoughts on the article.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 10:49:20 AM by kells76 » Logged

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« Reply #43 on: June 07, 2021, 11:25:30 AM »

Thank you all!

That's been one of my BIG concerns... being the finger pointer.
From the times we've interacted with the kids' therapist she always compliments us as great parents raising well adjusted kids!  So me coming in with "I suspect this!" would probably seem like a shock and risk making things worse.

Loaded the article in another tab- I'll read it shortly!

Her aunt is actually giving me a ride to the airport.  She's aware I'll be gone and has offered to help in any way.  My wife tends to refuse outside help so it might be difficult but I'm sure there's a way to suggest it gently.

NotWendy, you've described the situation so well again!  Quite often when my wife volunteers for something I end up having to do it and either takes credit or uses me as an excuse.  I often play the "idiot Dad" card for her so she feels better about situations.

I work from home (both jobs) full time.  My "official" office is a few states away.  She homeschools the kids but I'm involved A LOT - though she tells me I just make it worse OR that I could do everything without her (typical BPD, I know)

After having this realization about her emotional maturity I just feel incredibly sad.  Some of the resent I've been carrying is starting to melt away... it's just heartbreaking.  It means to me that she probably doesn't even realize she's manipulating things.  To her she's totally rational- sure a bit short tempered but it's "justified" because to her these situations are not at all fair for her.

Jumping into that article now.  Thanks again!
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« Reply #44 on: June 07, 2021, 11:31:12 AM »

Excited to hear what you think. NB you can substitute "BPD" for "parental alienation" in the intro of the article, and the dynamics are the same.

And, on page 3, in "know the narrative", you can substitute "spouse" for "child" and again, same dynamics, so same communication strategies to professionals will apply.
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« Reply #45 on: June 07, 2021, 12:46:57 PM »

Glad to be of help. One reason I post about my BPD mother is that I understand the connection between being raised in a BPD family and it's influence on our romantic relationship dynamics and our choices. While you may have some regrets about this marriage, consider that, in a way, the dynamics made you "suitable" for this situation, it felt familiar to you. It's certainly influenced my part in relationships and I refer to it for information that might help me and also share it when I think it might help others.

The shift from feeling less resentment to more understanding will help - whether or not you stay married- as since you have kids together, you will be in some kind of "relationship" regardless.

Another model I found helpful is the Karpman triangle. My observation ( and I think it's also documented) is that the pwBPD perceives things from Victim. The partner tends to be Rescuer. Each person can take on all 3  roles but if the pwBPD prefers Victim, then Rescuer can shift to Persecutor in an instance. Ex - she communicates distress over your trip. The expected Rescuer role is to save her from distress and not go. When you don't take on that role, you shift to Persecutor- hurting her as the Victim.

Suggesting she have help may likely be seen as you telling her she's not competent. So how do you do this from a different angle? With my mother, she tends to respond to feeling she's worth it, building up her ego. " I am providing a sitter because after watching the kids all day you deserve a break"

Or- here's a gift certificate for a pedicure. Maybe Ms. X can watch the kids so you can have a nice break".


This may feel manipulative, but really, it's win win if she gets a break and you get to go on your trip- and also win for the kids if they have fun with the sitter.
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« Reply #46 on: June 07, 2021, 01:22:18 PM »

Thank you NotWendy!  The parallels between now and my childhood are shocking.

And agreed- shifting from resentment to understanding has helped a lot- even in the last 24 hours.  I do know that I don't want to live like this.  It'd be easier if she were able to understand and be willing to change but I'll admit part of me doesn't even want to attempt.  Part of me just wants to be done.

The triangle is a fantastic analogy.  Discussions are never really "resolved" until she's rationalized her way into the Victim role.  She'll even revisit conversations I thought we'd 'finished' and rehash (read: beat a dead horse... or beat me with a horse it feels sometimes!) until I concede.  Growing up with uBPD Mother I'm eager to jump into the Rescuer role and by taking the blame I think I fit the Persecutor and Rescuer at the same time!  Like you said I felt comfortable in this relationship instantly.  I didn't understand why until recently.

Lol I often feel like the family's "Dark Knight."  Like when Batman takes the blame for a certain character's violent demise?  I tell myself "I can take it- if this makes the screaming stop and things get back to 'normal' I can take it."  I see now how detrimental that's been on our relationship and me as an individual!

I'm talking with my therapist (who suspected my wife's BPD from the jump) in a bit.  We'll probably talk about how to bring this up and what to do next.

Your mother sounds like my wife when it comes to help!  Any acceptance is to admit inadequacy!

How did you define yourself and break out of the child-of-a-BPD-parent mindset?  How does it affect your relationships today?
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« Reply #47 on: June 07, 2021, 02:39:21 PM »

I was late to the game- into adulthood before I learned about BPD. My mother's condition was a well protected family secret. As a teen, she blamed me for any problems in the family. I left home for college and assumed she was happier once I was out of the house. However, when I had my own children,  instincts made me wary of my mother, her behavior to us as kids was quite toxic and abusive, and there was no way I would allow her to be alone with them. I didn't have a name for why.

Several years later, my father became seriously ill and eventually passed away. During this time my mother's behavior escalated and I found BPD on the internet. She fit every criteria. It was later that her home health care team confirmed BPD although she has no idea I know ( she has signed consent forms medically but we don't discuss it)

I decided to start therapy over the grief with my Dad. Meanwhile I had been dealing with marital issues for a while and had no clue what to do. Even though my H is very different from my mother, there were similar dynamics and it was hard to find the connection until in my searching I found that how we were raised has an influence on who we end up with, and it became clear that I had emulated the enabling/ rescuer/ emotional caretaker role that my father role modeled, and in addition, it was my role in my family growing up. An MC suggested I look at my behaviors and I ended up in 12 step codependency groups.

I think the biggest impact for me has been working on my part in things. We can't change another person, but we can work on ourselves and if we are part of the dynamics, we can then change the dynamics, to a point. I think it's the best place to start, and see how things go. I also realize that some relationships are not going to work out. We have to all make our own assessment about how workable things are. My marriage thankfully is, but my mother is too impaired. We are cordial, but not close. There's no way to be close to her. However, working on my part has made me better able to have a relationship with less drama, less emotional hurt. If you can do the work on your part, and reduce the drama for your relationship it will have benefits whether you stay or leave. It's also a bit of a double benefit as you will also be able to manage your relationship with your parents with less drama too.
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« Reply #48 on: June 07, 2021, 03:05:56 PM »

The version of "you can go but you better not" had a different twist to it for me. H is chief wage earner, and was not available to watch the kids or simply refused to, with the reasoning that he worked more than I did and so didn't have to. I did get to go on some work related trips for me as they were essential. I also spent time as a stay at home parent and during this time, didn't go anywhere unless I took the kids with me. I had friends who did fun things "with the girls" and their husbands helped, but I could not do them. H's way of making it hard for me was to not be available at all, or just refuse. It was  passive way and never looked like he was actually doing something to stop me, so as far as he was concerned he didn't stop me.

If I wanted to do something, I made sure I had babysitters. But it wasn't often.

It took the MC to help me break out of this one. What also helped was time. The kids grew up and as they did, they didn't need a parent around all the time. It was still hard to go anywhere, due to the patterns we were in and my habit of not wanting to rock the boat.  But the resentment was huge and I had to stop them.
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« Reply #49 on: June 08, 2021, 06:31:41 AM »

To clarify- "go anywhere" wasn't a big thing. Maybe an exercise class, or ladies' church night, or any short time. H had his hobbies and trips, but not me. The default reason was always " whose job is more essential"? And while there is truth in that, it's not like I was contributing nothing, being full time kids/house and working some of the time.

Getting down to the real, unspoken reason, he was afraid I would leave. There was no reason for his concern. I never considered it and there was no reason to fear this. It may have been a carry over from his own childhood. The best "insurance" for that was for me to be with the kids all the time and not go anywhere outside the usual routine.

The MC encouraged me to start doing things- like even going to a 12 step codependency meeting was a big deal. The anxiety on my part was big as I was afraid to upset my H. That's a carry over from childhood too as we walked on eggshells afraid of BPD mom. So you can see why we were both operating from our fears. The MC helped me work through them- showing me how when I walked on eggshells- I was contributing to the problem. However, the overall situation was much milder in terms of dysfunction compared to my mother. Still the tools work, working on our part works better than trying to change someone else. My H is also a good dad to the kids. The relationship issues were between us only.

For your trip though, the main concern is the kids; safety, and if your wife is able to handle the kids during this time. It's OK if the kids cry, and miss you. That's normal childhood emotions they need to handle. They can learn that if Daddy goes on a trip, he will come back. There are households all over where a parent travels for work sometimes, and even takes a trip and the kids are OK.

But safety - that's different. Will she emotionally unravel on the kids? We did have frequent babysitters when I was a kid, and I know now that it was likely because of my mother's limitations. When we were old enough to not need sitters, we were on our own with her. We saw her severely dysregulate a lot. Like trash the house, screaming, yelling. The next day all would be OK, my parents pretended nothing happened. We didn't dare ask - we were expected to pretend too.

Your wife may come up with all kinds of "reasons" why you should not take the trip, but they aren't likely to be the real reason and so solving them won't address whatever fears or emotions she's acting on. And you likely have fears of upsetting her that could be exaggerated due to your own childhood. The resentment that it isn't fair to you is real, but logically though, in this "triangle" there's only one real victim- and a victim is someone who can't be in control of their own decisions and needs protection- the children.

Will the kids be safe is #1 ( can wife really handle this?).
If not- how can you set this up so someone who can handle this is there to help? The aunt, any sitters? Play dates with friends?

Seems like leaning on the aunt is the best solution. Maybe ask her to step in more, and afterwards send a thank you gift to her.
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« Reply #50 on: June 08, 2021, 07:19:37 AM »

Thank you NotWendy!

You've hit the nail on the head.  I'm not physically worried about the kids but I am increasingly concerned about what damage she might do emotionally.  I think it's important that the kids learn to deal with uncomfortable (but safe!) situations that my evoke some strong emotions.  My trip was never about that but it's sort of turned into somewhat of a learning opportunity.

I think my W is fishing for emotions from the kids.   I normally handle bedtime, but last night she kept hounding my daughter with "I feel like something else is bothering you- I can tell - what is it?"  When my daughter relayed feelings unrelated to my trip my W pressed harder "I don't think that's it - there's something else isn't there?  I don't want to be here all night, so just get it out."  When my daughter didn't have anything else my W gave up and went to my son's room (who I'd already tucked in) and closed the door.  They talked briefly and when she came downstairs she seemed upset.

"What's going on with my big guy?" I asked.
"... I'm not sure if I should tell you..." and she gave me "the look."  It's this cold dead 'BPD' look that my Mom used to get.
"I'd like you to tell me, if something's bothering him I'd like to know."
"I just don't know if I should tell you- I don't how much I should tell you anymore and I hate that I feel like I can't be honest with you about things because I don't want you to think I'm 'manipulating the situation' or 'trying to control you.'  I just don't want to upset you."
It was everything I could do to keep from losing it.  This felt wrong.  With holding how my kids feel about something...
"I won't, you can tell me, I won't get upset."
She leaves the kitchen and I follow her then say, "it's really okay- I'm sorry I lost my cool but if something is up with him I really think I should know."
"Did you hear any of what he said?"
"No, I was down here"
"... he said he's having a hard time with your trip- that he doesn't feel up to it and it's making him sad.  He said that 'sissy will be sad and that will make me sad because Dad is gone and sometimes he silly with me and I will miss him and what if he is gone much longer than he says?'  I comforted him and told him it's okay and that barring something going wrong at the airport he'll be home on time..." she just stares at me... "... and...?" A long pause.  "A thank you would be nice!  I comforted him for you so you can still go..."
"Okay, I'm sorry I wasn't sure if that was all and I didn't want to cut you off, but thank you for taking that and comforting him.  I had no idea he was feeling this way-"
"well he's not going to tell you!"
"-we spent a lot of time together today drawing, playing drums, and talking about/watching our favorite show together.  I wish he would bring it up with me and it makes me sad he didn't.  I'll talk to him tomorrow about it and let him know he can tell me anything, even if he's worried it'll upset me."
"I don't think you should."
"What?"
"I think you should leave it- you'll just make it worse.  They're terrified of making you mad after your outburst- when you yelled at me for doing nothing."
"I want to apologize to him again and explain better.  I should tell him again that I lost my cool*- everyone lets their emotions get the best of them sometimes but that it isn't an excuse.  I want him to know he can come to me with anything and that I wasn't upset with him or his sister-"
"you made them upset for showing their emotions!"
"-and that it was strictly a 'me' issue and that it won't happen again"
"... I just don't think you should bring it up to him- what good will it do?  I know which way you're leaning about your trip.  I hate what this trip has done!  It's made me question myself and our relationship all because you yelled at me for nothing!"
"Okay, well it's not entirely decided yet but if he really feels that strongly then maybe I should consider something else."
BOOM.  Mood changed.  She relaxed and her whole body language shifted.  She switched back to 'normal' mode where she asks me to bring her water, night time supplements, snacks, etc while we watch tv.


*Yes.  I lost my cool.  I raised my voice at her while the kids where upstairs.  This is the first time I've ever done that.  Compared to the many times she's screamed at the kids and threatened to leave it seems like a minor offense.  Of course when I brought that up a few days ago it's "how can you hold that against me?!  I wasn't in control!  I was in the middle of a PMDD episode!  I can't believe you'd hold that against me!"

First thing, this seems suspicious.  The closed door, asking if I heard anything?  Right after not getting a response from my daughter... She's made fervent claims that she's not lying or making anything up... however a "did you hear any of that" has preceded both times she's told me the kids have an issue with the trip after talking to them behind closed doors.

Second, what he's saying seems like fairly normal pre-trip concerns.  Of course he'll miss me!  I'll miss him too!  I think that might be one of the points!  Quite often my wife will complain that she needs to get away so she has the opportunity to "miss you guys- I'm around you all the time!"  I think it's important for everyone to learn how to deal with being separated for a bit!

Third, my wife is going out with friends this weekend.  I've been encouraging her to go!  She's had a few girls brunch/lunches lately and I've always encouraged the heck out of it- even before the BPD suspicions.  She usually comes back in a better mood (which makes sense!  It's like spending time with friends away from family obligations is healthy or something!)

My therapist has suggested that I go.  She's also suggested that if anything happens while I'm gone to call the police to do a well visit check.  I have her aunt on standby and she's taking me to the airport.  My hope is that she's less likely to pull anything if an 'outsider' is involved.  I told the kids that she's taking me which means they'll get to see her for a little bit before I go which made them really happy.

I've made arrangements to meet all of her requirements (another tattoo and a bounce house) and lo and behold... it still isn't enough.  She's still saying things like "I know you don't care but I'm not happy about your trip.  I'm not okay with it and not because of the actual trip but because of the a$$hole you've been."

It feels like I stumbled and she's exploiting it.  I revealed my concerns about her behavior and then caved- which is my fault.  I backed down.  Once I realized I was in a 'no-win' I stopped fighting and just let it go.  Which may have been a mistake... I just wanted the verbal assault to stop.
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« Reply #51 on: June 08, 2021, 07:53:47 AM »

Hey...there is a turning point in the conversation I think you should consider.

"hey what's going on.."

"not sure I should tell you.."

(you "took a bite here")


Instead..decline the invitation.

"Very wise on your part to consider you words carefully.  "

Pause

"When you feel it's wise to share let me know and I'll see when I can clear my mind to listen."

Big picture here is you are not biting and kicking the can down the road. (also putting yourself in a position to agree 100% with your pwBPD...let them deal with consequences of people agreeing with them)

Anyplace in your relationship where you are like "please please (fill in the blank)..you can do it...come one...do it"

Way too much effort and it's likely "feeding" a dysfunction "need" of your pwBPD.

Note:  This is "tactical" advice on how to identify offers to "take bait" and avoid doing that.

Much of the other discussion here is "strategic"/big picture stuff.  Very important stuff.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #52 on: June 08, 2021, 08:28:16 AM »

Instead..decline the invitation.

Woah!  I didn't even consider this to be a 'trap' but looking back it obviously was and ran headlong into it.
I "begged" her to tell me so I set up myself up to be responsible for what she says not the other way around.

I'm constantly having Keanu "Woah" moments here...

I think that little bait tactic shapes the entire conversation into being a manipulation tactic... the kids may or may not be saying these things, she may be paraphrasing or she may be making it up entirely... however by setting up the conversation that way it becomes a trap and/or exerting control.  She gets to say whatever she wants because I just gave her permission to AND I "waived" my rights to be upset about it.  Sometimes it's impressive- especially if it isn't conscious.

BTW thank you Kells for the PDF recommendation.  I studied Aikido for a few years, so the mentality is something fairly tangible to me!
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 08:33:47 AM by Guts42 » Logged
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« Reply #53 on: June 08, 2021, 09:16:30 AM »

Consider the concept of "projection" - dealing with uncomfortable emotions by making the source of them someone else.

and/or the idea that the "reason" wasn't acceptable so there has to be another "reason" that will work to get the results they want ( a form of manipulation).


Your wife does not want you to go. She does not have a rational reason to tell you not to go. However, it is more rational to place ( project) her emotions onto the kids, and it works better.

Here's the conversation and the evidence. Please follow this thinking with me.


he (child) said he's having a hard time with your trip- that he doesn't feel up to it and it's making him sad.  


This is her projection and it's actually her who is having the hard time. But she can't tell you this and so she's saying it's from your son. But it's probably not- and here's why. She is setting it up so you won't confirm it.



"well he's not going to tell you!"

"I don't think you should."

"What?"
"I think you should leave it- you'll just make it worse.


"... I just don't think you should bring it up to him- what good will it do?  






"Okay, well it's not entirely decided yet but if he really feels that strongly then maybe I should consider something else."
BOOM.  Mood changed.  She relaxed and her whole body language shifted.  She switched back to 'normal' mode



You can see here that she got the result she wanted by the sudden change in mood.


I have been through this version with BPD mom many times. The first is a statement coming from someone else. Then I get concerned that someone else is upset with me and try to fix it with them. The next statement is don't you dare talk to them.

We had an incident where we were getting together and my mother wanted to invite more people. Her fear is that I won't want to do that as  I wanted it to be just us.

Mom: "I have ordered some food for us from "X Restaurant"."

Me: "Thanks but it's just us so why not keep it casual and I can make something for us?" ( I have no idea at the moment that she wants to invite more people- so I am taking care of providing the food for us)

Mom: " I insist, I just want to do this and I hear the food is good there"

Me: "Ok but let me call them to ask what's on the menu"

Mom: " Don't you DARE call them" ( and the LOOK, I know that look)

So I have learned that when she says don't call, don't say anything, that's what I need to do and I call, and guess what they don't have an order, there never was one. She was trying to get me to agree to it and then say "oh so and so is coming too, I bought the food". You see, if she's in charge of the food, then she has more control.

The problem was that I didn't just say "yes" and asked more questions.


So for your wife- what she wanted when she said "Son is upset" was then for you to say "well I better not go" and that would resolve it, but you questioned it which led to the next " don't ask him".

I don't think this kind of thing is malicious. I think if someone knows their fears or reasons won't be accepted right away and so they find a way to say things to get their needs met.

Your wife fears you would just say no if she asked you to not go, so she finds another way to possibly get this need met.

This doesn't mean you meet all her emotional needs, but it may help to understand that the "reason" given may not be the reason. So rather than fix the "reason" which won't work, ( because it's not- that's why the tattoo and bounce station didn't work) consider the actual reason, and how to work with it or around it.


« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 09:27:36 AM by Notwendy » Logged
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« Reply #54 on: June 08, 2021, 09:33:27 AM »

Neither my ex nor my H are BPD, but I still follow FormFlier's advice in conversations with them (And often with the kids).

Don't take the bait.  "I shouldn't tell you" gets an "I understand that you want to keep a confidence."  and then I turn away.

I also don't like that she's setting up triangulation here - S doesn't want to tell you so *I* will tell you.  We try to avoid that in our house, too.  Even with my ex, I just encourage the kids to tell Dad rather than me tell him.
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« Reply #55 on: June 08, 2021, 09:58:38 AM »

NotWendy- your advice and insight has been so helpful.  You've just described so many interactions I've had with my mom that also echo the current situation with my uBPDw.  You've also elegantly detailed what I couldn't quite put my finger on.  It's greatly appreciated.

I've suspected there's been some projection going on here.  And agreed- I don't think it's malicious!  That's the hard part of it for me- she isn't trying to be mean or manipulative... she's just trying to make the pain go away.  That doesn't make it healthy but it makes it easier to not get upset.

So glad (but also sorry!) that you "the look" too!  I still have nightmares about that look from my childhood!
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« Reply #56 on: June 08, 2021, 11:48:02 AM »

the kids may or may not be saying these things

And...who cares if they did.

Kids are not in charge...adults are.  Hopefully those adults act like adults.

Adults teach kids through words and actions how to be resilient.

So...when/if your pwBPD ever suggests you NOT doing something "because of how a kid feels"..

"hmmm...babe that's interesting to think about.  I'm curious how our actions affect their resiliency...what do you think?"

Just keep turning the conversation back to the parenting goal of resilient children.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #57 on: June 08, 2021, 11:54:50 AM »


Also...there are some interesting possibilities to "erect boundaries".

Step 1..  "ok...so the issue on the table is our sons discomfort with this potential trip."  (gain agreement before moving forward)

Step 2..  "awesome..I'm getting the vibe from you that you are ok with trip..right?  The concern is our son's feelings.."  (said in a breezy way...as in "of course you are ok..we're just talking about our son)

again..stay here until you gain agreement.

Step 3..."ok..now that we know what we are trying to solve, how would me going affect his resiliency?"  "How would me staying affect his resiliency?"

And..the trap snaps shut..

She can either admit she is the one with difficulty...or having a rational (and therefor very uncomfortable discussion) about resiliency.

Best,

FF
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« Reply #58 on: June 08, 2021, 11:57:35 AM »


Step 2..  "awesome..I'm getting the vibe from you that you are ok with trip..right?  The concern is our son's feelings.."  (said in a breezy way...as in "of course you are ok..we're just talking about our son)


That's a fantastic way to do it!

However, she said the midst of the conversation last night that she's not okay with it now... she did agree to it initially but then after I booked it she said the weight of how much she'd have to carry hit her.

Still - some valid and excellent ideas here!  Thanks FF!
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« Reply #59 on: June 08, 2021, 12:01:17 PM »


However, she said the midst of the conversation last night that she's not okay with it now... she did agree to it initially but then after I booked it she said the weight of how much she'd have to carry hit her.

 

Again..in breezy fashion just keep on moving.

"Ok babe...we'll keep that in mind for next trip we plan.  I'm sure it will be thought through better."

Do NOT let her off the hook with her YES.  Otherwise it will "validate the invalid"..which is what I say doesn't matter.  I can change anytime...and jerk everyone around.

Best,

FF
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